MDA Space to develop new robotic arm for NASA’s Gateway lunar space station

MDA Space

MDA Space has been awarded a $1 billion contract from the Canadian Space Agency for the next phases of the Canadarm3 program. 

This includes funding for the final design and construction of the robotics system, which will be utilized on the Gateway space station as part of NASA’s Artemis program. 

“This contract highlights Canada’s commitment to the next chapter of lunar exploration,” commented François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry. “Beyond enhancing Canada’s position of developing and retaining top talents and world-renowned innovators, this initiative supports high-quality jobs and opportunities for growth within the country’s expanding space sector.”

The contract also covers planning and training for on-orbit mission operations. MDA Space will manage the commissioning of Canadarm3 from their new mission control facility in Brampton, Ontario. The project will involve over 200 Canadian companies in MDA Space’s supply chain and is expected to run until March 2030.

Canadarm3’s predecessor, Canadarm2, has been an essential part of the International Space Station (ISS) since its installation in 2001. Also developed by MDA Space and the Canadian Space Agency, it is a 17.6-meter-long, highly flexible, and multi-jointed system capable of performing a variety of tasks in space, including assembling station modules, capturing and docking spacecraft, and assisting astronauts during spacewalks. 

Another similar system, the European Robotic Arm (ERA), was brought into operation by the Russian scientific module Nauka, which docked at the ISS on July 29, 2021. While smaller and not as strong as its Canadian counterparts, the ERA can function completely automatically.

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